Behind the Scenes: Rosé of Pinot Noir Debut

Imagery is key when launching a new product and we knew the best person to help capture the essence of Layer Cake’s new Rosé of Pinot Noir: food and lifestyle photographer Matt Armendariz.

We flew down and spent two days in his naturally lit, loft-style photo studio in Long Beach, CA. We were graced with his talent, props, equipment and stylists to help us achieve the perfect shot for our upcoming launch. The goal was to make the wine look as good as it tastes. We succeeded.

Few know just how much it takes to get the perfect shot, especially one as important as this for our new product release. For this, we were extremely grateful to have Matt’s expertise. Once we were happy the the final shot, it was time to bring the ad to life.

That’s when we turned to Zentiv creative agency in Santa Rosa, CA to help the ad jump off the page. You can see our beautiful new ad in the latest editions of Wine Spectator, Food & WineWine & Spirits, Wine Enthusiast, Sunset and many more. We believe it captures the essence of the wine, and are excited to share it with you all. Cheers.

Wine and Food Pairings for Your Home Brunch

Brunch has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years, and for good reason. Between the upscale food and the tasty cocktails, brunch has everything you need to have a truly relaxing weekend. Many restaurants and wineries have started offering special brunch menus on weekend mornings. But sometimes, you don’t feel like going out. For those days that you want the comfort of your own home, but still want a relaxing brunch with friends, we have some brunch hosting tips for you!

Plan a Theme

Every meal is better with a theme, especially when entertaining! Choose a common element to tie your brunch together. You could choose a region-inspired brunch, serving dishes from places like Italy or New Orleans, and picking décor and music to match.

Or maybe you want a food theme! Try a veggie-only brunch, or pick a main entrée dish and choose sides and drinks to match!

Other themes could include colors, time periods, or even pop culture references. The sky is your limit! Choosing a theme makes it easier for everyone to pitch in while still having a cohesive brunch meal. This way your brunch will be a team effort and no one person will have to do all the work. More fun for everyone!

Think about Prep

If you want your brunch to run smoothly, think about the flow of traffic between food prep and food consumption. Prep as much of your meal as possible before your guests arrive. Put baked goods in the oven as your guests arrive, to be enjoyed after your first drinks.

Create a station for light food and drink prep. If you’re looking for maximum convenience, look at these wine tasting centers that store wine bottles, glasses, and have counter-space for drink prep. With drawers to store your bottle opener and silverware, you can make this your brunch supply station and be ready for brunch any time! Some even have room for seating and double as a table!

Pair Fantastic Food with Wonderful Wine

Now for what you’re really here for: the food! Here are some ideas to get you started planning your brunch meal:

  • Flatbread is a great finger food and easy to pair with other dishes. Try some simple herbs, smoked salmon and prosciutto on grilled flatbread. It’d go great with Layer Cake Chardonnay or a crisp, Sauvignon Blanc to balance out the salt in the smoked salmon.
  • Want your brunch to have fresh, homegrown food? Plan ahead and plant a pesto garden! Then all your brunches can have a lovely pesto for pizza, pasta, flatbread, or bruschetta!
  • Pair a French Toast (or as the French call it, Pain Perdu) with a homemade berry jam and the fruity Layer Cake Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Looking to add some whimsy to your meal? Check out this A-Z guide to edible flowers. There are recipes for rose jam, yucca hash, and more! You can even make your own Dandelion Wine as an after-brunch palate cleanser. Edible flowers are an easy and unique addition to any meal, more information can be found at Sharie’s Berries Guide to Edible Flowers as well.
  • Stock up on your favorite Champagne or sparkling wine and some fresh citrus juices (orange, grapefruit, tangerine, etc.) for a low-maintenance mimosa bar!
  • Want to give your guests an option with a little zing? Try these Buttermilk and Sharp Cheddar Biscuits with Brown Sugar Cured Ham & Pepper Jelly.

These are just a few fun ideas for your next wine-centric brunch with close friends and family. What’s your favorite brunch pairing? Share in the comments!

Submitted by Layer Cake Wines fan, Jeriann Watkins

Oysters by the Bay

Road tripping for oysters (especially on a beautiful summer day) is a must-do on Bay Area bucket lists, with those roads all leading to sleepy Tomales Bay. That estuary in western Marin County, CA (as far west as you can go, actually) is famous for its thriving oyster aquacultures, and fans of those little bivalves are spoiled for choice: they can slurp waterside at the Marshall Store, reserve a picnic table at Hog Island Oyster Company, or cram a cooler full from the Tomales Bay Oyster Company to bring home.

If it’s not always picnic-perfect weather, not to worry; the storied bivalve hits its peak in the winter, when they’re flinty, cold and sparkling-fresh. Once you get the hang of your shucking technique, slurp those little Pacific “sweet waters” down raw (they won’t ask for lemon or mignonette, just a sip of icy Sauvignon Blanc to wash them down) and save the larger Kumamotos for grilling.

Barbecued oysters are a regional specialty in those parts, often served with a tangy BBQ sauce or splash of Tapatio. They’re a terrific way to introduce the briny pleasures of the oyster to those who might be otherwise averse, and a special treat in those months lacking an “R”. (Oysters are perfectly safe to eat year-round, but they spawn in the summer months, giving their meat a cloudy, creamy texture that’s considered inferior on the raw bar but fantastic when barbecued. Kumamotos and some Atlantic varieties are tasty all year, raw or cooked.)

Inside and dry and out of any winter weather, prep your oysters for the grill. Sweat a few cloves of minced garlic in butter, add a splash of lemon and a hit of dried parsley and set the pan aside. Scrub and shuck the oysters (medium size works best), trying to hang on to as much of their liquor as possible. Each half-shell gets a scant teaspoon of garlic butter, then a light dusting of seasoned breadcrumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Grill them until the sauce starts to bubble (2-3 minutes at most) and then (carefully!) take them off the heat with tongs.

If you ever enjoyed Oysters Rockefeller, or liked them Mornay-style, you’ll get a savory kick out of these, with the garlicky topping flattering the clean, briny sweetness of the shellfish. You probably won’t want to bother going back indoors to eat them, so just hover over the grill and knock them back. And you’ll also find proof that everything does indeed taste better outside (even if your Wellies and umbrella get a workout), especially when you’re a stone’s throw from the sea.

How To: Keep Wine Safe

Here’s the scenario, you have selected your wine and brought it home, maybe a few bottles, or a case of your favorite. Perhaps you are saving it for an event or a bottle for the end of some difficult day. Now what? In the average home or kitchen, where do you store the wine to ensure it is safe from spoilage or getting corked?

To keep your wine safe at home, consider the following.

How long do you plan to have the wine before drinking it?
If you plan on having your wine for just a few weeks before you drink it you can store it on a kitchen counter or in a cool, dry place. It is fine to store your white wine in the refrigerator; you’ll want to take it out so it can warm up a bit prior to drinking it.

What about wines you plan to keep and store for longer periods of time?

If you are holding onto a special bottle for a birthday or anniversary, it is best to store it, white or red, in a cool, dark location. If the wine has a cork, you’ll want to store it on its side or at an angle to keep the cork moist.

What about temperature and light?

In general, wine should not be stored anywhere the temperature will exceed 77 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, it should not be stored in a place that will experience swings in temperature, say a car for example.

I splurged on an excellent bottle of wine that I’d like to save, now what?

If you’re collecting or storing wine that gets better with age, you may want to consider an investment in a wine refrigerator.

I’ve opened a bottle and want to save some for later, how long will my red or white wine keep?

In general, once open wines are good for about one week, perhaps less. While controversial in years past, experts now agree that storing red wine in the refrigerator may help extend its life.

While the need to keep wine safe at home may present itself time and again, there is one way to make sure wine is safe, drink it all upon opening.

The Perfect Wine Picnic

Picnic season is upon us. Goodbye gloomy days and snowfall; hello sunny days and rosés! If you’re like me, then your childhood picnics probably featured dry PB&J sandwiches and a bag of potato chips. Luckily, a picnic can be so much more! If you’re planning a big family outing or just thinking about stopping to eat on your summer road trip, then read on for some great picnic food ideas and the perfect Layer Cake wines to go with them.

In my mind, good picnic food has three qualities. First, it’s discreet, so taking a bite of something doesn’t means you’re committing yourself to finishing a whole bowl. Second, it can be served at room temperature. Oven-to-table is just not going to happen at a picnic, and that’s okay as long as we’re serving foods that don’t need to be very hot or very cold. Finally, it’s delicious!

Garlic Knots

For me, garlic knots satisfy all of these conditions. They’re really easy to make too.

Ingredients:

  • Pizza dough (about enough for one pizza)
  • About half a stick of butter
  • 2 tbsp of chopped Italian parsley
  • 6 chopped cloves of garlic (more or less, depending on taste)
  • Crunchy sea salt

Directions:

To make them, roll your pizza dough out and cut it into strips about one inch wide. Tie your strips using an overhand knot (the knot adds surface area for our garlic to stick to) and set those aside to rise. While they’re rising, we can make our garlic butter. Just melt the butter in a saucepan and add parsley and garlic. We’re just looking for a quick cook here, so don’t let the garlic get brown. Bake the knots at 400 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Finally, brush the baked knots with garlic butter, making sure to get some a few pieces of garlic on every knot. Sprinkle with the crunchy salt to finish.

Recommended Wine Pairing: Garlic, bread, and salt are all going to make us thirsty, so the perfect wine here will be very refreshing withs lots of fruity notes. Rosé is a great match, or Prosecco if you like some fizz.

Sandwich Bites

I recommend staying away from full-sized sandwiches, as they keep picnic guests tied down while they try to finish the whole thing. Sandwich bites, however, are a great choice. One easy recipe that’s sure to be a favorite is the classic BLT. Whatever you choose, just make your sandwich as you ordinarily would, then slice it into bite-sized squares. Add a toothpick to each bite for an elegant touch.

Recommended Wine Pairing: They say bacon makes everything better, but what makes bacon better? It may help to think of the BLT like a burger or any other meaty sandwich. The savory bacon pairs well with assertive reds, such as Primitivo or a red blend like Sea of Stones.

Chips and Guacamole

It’s simple, but guac is a staple food for any sort of group dining experience, and for good reason. Almost everyone loves it, you can eat as much or as little as you like, and avocados are really, really good for you. My favorite way to make guac is to keep it simple:

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 avocados
  • 1 fresh lime
  • Cayenne pepper and salt to taste

There’s no need to get complicated with guacamole and this three-ingredient recipe is the most authentic version. For some reason mashing up the avocados with a mortar and pestle makes it taste even better.

Recommended Wine Pairing: Usually people associate guac with beer or tequila. However, the truth is that it can go really well with wine too. Since avocados are already so rich, we’ll want something incredibly light to go with our guac. Sauvignon Blanc or a Dry Riesling are both great choices.

So, get outside and picnic! Show us your style and wine pairings by tagging us @layercakewines or #layercakewines.

Submitted by Layer Cake Wines fan, Nick Cesare